Weekly roundup: Tips to help you find your purpose

17 hours 7 minutes ago
I’ve already discussed how important meaningful work is. It makes us more engaged at work, happier in the long-term, and even wealthier. But having a sense of purpose in your life can also improve your health. An experiment by the nonprofit organisation Experience Corps paired adults 55 years-old or older with students in kindergarten for […]
Belle B. Cooper

The markets are uninspired by the Trump tax plan

1 day 4 hours ago
REMEMBER why the "Trump bump" began, all the way back in November? The rationale for the surge in stockmarkets was that the new administration would cut taxes and allow American growth to accelerate. And so we waited for the details. When they came yesterday, it was only a one-page set of bullet points, containing around 200 words.

Markets uninspired by Trump tax plan

1 day 4 hours ago
REMEMBER why the "Trump bump" began, all the way back in November? The rationale for the surge in stockmarkets was that the new administration would cut taxes and allow American growth to accelerate. And so we waited for the details. When they came yesterday, it was only a one-page set of bullet points, containing around 200 words.

Software Craftsmanship is Good Business

1 day 10 hours ago

Tonight, I logged into my site and saw a picture of someone’s colon, compliments of everyone’s favorite NSFW advertising engine, Disqus.  (Read more about this here).  Enough is enough, so I switched commenting engines.  Please bear with me and let me know if you have issues with comments. On a less aggravating note, please enjoy […]

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Erik Dietrich

Gboard for Android gets new languages and tools

1 day 15 hours ago

Attention to our friends in India and fast typers everywhere: Gboard’s latest update might be the thing you never knew you were missing. We’ve added 22 Indic languages—with transliteration support—including Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu and Gujarati. We’ve also dropped in a new text editing tool that makes it easier to select, copy and paste, plus new options for resizing and repositioning the keyboard so it fits to your hand and texting style. And to top it all off, this Gboard update comes with under-the-hood improvements for better accuracy and predictions while you type.  

New Languages - वाह

The full list of Gboard’s new languages includes: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo (Devanagari, Bengali), Dogri (Devanagari, Arabic), Gujarati, Hindi (Devanagari, Hinglish), Kannada, Kashmiri (Devanagari, Arabic), Konkani (Devanagari, Latin), Maithili (Devanagari), Malayalam, Manipuri (Bengali), Marathi (Devanagari), Nepali (Devanagari), Odia, Punjabi (Gurmukhi, Arabic), Sanskrit (Devanagari), Santali (Ol chiki, Latin), Sindhi (Devanagari, Arabic), Tamil, Telugu, Urdu (Arabic). In addition to the 22 new Indic languages, Gboard added support for Kinyarwanda and Waray. Through Gboard’s internationalization through machine learning, glide typing and suggestions are now available in more than 185 language varieties.

This list has all 11 Indic languages currently supported in the Google Indic Keyboard, plus 11 more languages, such as Urdu and Maithili. In addition to supporting each language’s native scripts, Gboard includes the QWERTY layout for transliteration, which lets you spell words phonetically. For example, type “aapko holi ki hardik shubhkamnay” and get “आपको होली की हार्दिक शुभकामनायें.”

Some of these languages have a small presence on the web, so we worked closely with native speakers across India to collect data to train our advanced machine learning models, so people can start texting in their native script.

Gboard also comes with some features that Google Indic Keyboard doesn’t, including Google Search and Google Translate right in your keyboard (just tap the “G” button to get started). And—as a reminder—Gboard already has a Hinglish language option for those of you who often switch back and forth between Hindi and English. If you’re a current Google Indic Keyboard user, we encourage you to download Gboard and give it a go.

Edit text more easily

Besides new languages, Gboard now comes with a new text editing mode with buttons for easy cursor control and the ability to select text, cut, copy, and paste right from your keyboard. To access this feature, select the Text Editing icon in the quick features menu by pressing on the G button (or arrow) in the suggestion strip. Pro tip: if you’re trying to up your typing speed, you can also move the cursor by sliding your finger back and forth along the spacebar, or delete by swiping to the left from the delete key.

New customization options: resize and reposition your keyboard

Now you can resize the keyboard and move it to a position that feels the most comfortable for you. In the quick features menu (press on arrow or G in the suggestion strip), click “More” (the three-dots icon), and click the one-handed mode button, then you can adjust the size and position of the keyboard.

To get these latest updates and improvements to your Gboard for Android, head to the Google Play Store and make sure you’re running the latest version of the app. That’s all for now, folks!

A Closer Look at the Efficiencer Firm

2 days 11 hours ago

For Day 3 of Developer Hegemony Week, I’m going to up the stakes on the Thunderclap.IT campaign.  If you sign up, you could win a free paperback copy of the book.  I’m going to raffle off three books at random for everyone that signs up, but only if we meet the goal of 100 participants. […]

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Erik Dietrich

Why we’re addicted to notifications

2 days 17 hours ago
Every time I read something about how much notifications are taking over our lives, I tone down my phone and turn off alerts for all my social media accounts. But somehow, by the next time I come across an article or study about our addiction to notifications, a bunch of them have crept back into […]
Belle B. Cooper

Our latest quality improvements for Search

3 days ago

Search can always be improved. We knew it when I started working on Search in 1999, and it’s still true today. Back then, the Internet was expanding at an incredible rate. We had to make sense of this explosion of information, organize it, and present it in a way so that people could find what they were looking for, right on the Google results page. The work then was around PageRank, the core algorithm used to measure the importance of webpages so they could be ranked in results. In addition to trying to organize information, our algorithms have always had to grapple with individuals or systems seeking to “game” our systems in order to appear higher in search results—using low-quality “content farms,” hidden text and other deceptive practices. We've tackled these problems, and others over the years, by making regular updates to our algorithms and introducing other features that prevent people from gaming the system.

Today, in a world where tens of thousands of pages are coming online every minute of every day, there are new ways that people try to game the system. The most high profile of these issues is the phenomenon of “fake news,” where content on the web has contributed to the spread of blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information. While this problem is different from issues in the past, our goal remains the same—to provide people with access to relevant information from the most reliable sources available. And while we may not always get it right, we’re making good progress in tackling the problem. But in order to have long-term and impactful changes, more structural changes in Search are needed.

With that longer-term effort in mind, today we’re taking the next step toward continuing to surface more high-quality content from the web. This includes improvements in Search ranking, easier ways for people to provide direct feedback, and greater transparency around how Search works.

Search ranking

Our algorithms help identify reliable sources from the hundreds of billions of pages in our index. However, it’s become very apparent that a small set of queries in our daily traffic (around 0.25 percent), have been returning offensive or clearly misleading content, which is not what people are looking for. To help prevent the spread of such content for this subset of queries, we’ve improved our evaluation methods and made algorithmic updates to surface more authoritative content.

  • New Search Quality Rater guidelines: Developing changes to Search involves a process of experimentation. As part of that process, we have evaluators—real people who assess the quality of Google’s search results—give us feedback on our experiments. These ratings don’t determine individual page rankings, but are used to help us gather data on the quality of our results and identify areas where we need to improve. Last month, we updated our Search Quality Rater Guidelines to provide more detailed examples of low-quality webpages for raters to appropriately flag, which can include misleading information, unexpected offensive results, hoaxes and unsupported conspiracy theories. These guidelines will begin to help our algorithms in demoting such low-quality content and help us to make additional improvements over time.
  • Ranking changes: We combine hundreds of signals to determine which results we show for a given query—from the freshness of the content, to the number of times your search queries appear on the page. We’ve adjusted our signals to help surface more authoritative pages and demote low-quality content, so that issues similar to the Holocaust denial results that we saw back in December are less likely to appear.

Direct feedback tools

When you visit Google, we aim to speed up your experience with features like Autocomplete, which helps predict the searches you might be typing to quickly get to the info you need, and Featured Snippets, which shows a highlight of the information relevant to what you’re looking for at the top of your search results. The content that appears in these features is generated algorithmically and is a reflection of what people are searching for and what’s available on the web. This can sometimes lead to results that are unexpected, inaccurate or offensive. Starting today, we’re making it much easier for people to directly flag content that appears in both Autocomplete predictions and Featured Snippets. These new feedback mechanisms include clearly labeled categories so you can inform us directly if you find sensitive or unhelpful content. We plan to use this feedback to help improve our algorithms. New feedback link for Autocomplete Updated feedback link for Featured Snippets

Greater transparency about our products

Over the last few months, we’ve been asked tough questions about why shocking or offensive predictions were appearing in Autocomplete. Based on this, we evaluated where we can improve our content policies and updated them appropriately. Now we’re publishing this policy to the Help Center so anyone can learn more about Autocomplete and our approach to removals.  

For those looking to delve a little deeper, we recently updated our How Search Works site to provide more information to users and website owners about the technology behind Search. The site includes a description of how Google ranking systems sort through hundreds of billions of pages to return your results, as well as an overview of our user testing process.  

There are trillions of searches on Google every year. In fact, 15 percent of searches we see every day are new—which means there’s always more work for us to do to present people with the best answers to their queries from a wide variety of legitimate sources. While our search results will never be perfect, we’re as committed as always to preserving your trust and to ensuring our products continue to be useful for everyone.

Why is Staff Aug a Dirty Term?

3 days 9 hours ago

This is day 2 of Developer Hegemony Week, and the book goes live in just over a week.  I’m about a third of the way there on my Thunderclap Campaign, but I need your help!  Even if you’ve already signed up, you can sign up from both Facebook and Twitter.  Thanks to everyone for your […]

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Erik Dietrich

Your Job Title of Tomorrow: Efficiencer

4 days 10 hours ago

Since I boasted about this on Twitter, I have to follow through.  I’m going to do “Developer Hegemony Week” on my blog, leading up to the book launch on May 2nd.  (I suppose this makes Developer Hegemony Week a misnomer of sorts, since we’re talking about 9 days of posts.)  I can think of no […]

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Erik Dietrich

Happy Earth Day, world!

6 days 19 hours ago

The Earth is more than 4.543 billion years old, home to more than 8.7 million species—and still the only known planet in the universe known to harbor life. That’s right, we’re pretty special.😉  So on Earth Day, let’s all celebrate our planet and learn about ways to help preserve it.  

Today’s Earth Day Doodle tells the story of a friendly fox whose bad dream about about climate change jolts it into action. The fox goes on a quest to care for the Earth—meeting some familiar faces along the way.

Clicking through to Google Search, you’ll see a list of quick and easy tips to help you do your part in saving the planet. Whether it’s planting a tree, conserving energy or carpooling on your way to work, no act is too small.

Now by searching for “Earth Day” or a similar query, you’ll see a carousel of posts on Google with info on Earth Day events, museum exhibits from Oakland to Switzerland, and history of how Earth Day came to be from the History Channel.

Teen girls coding at a Change is Made with Code event in New York City

Sometimes a call to action can help motivate your friends and family to get involved and learn about ways to protect the environment. In this spirit, Google’s Made with Code has launched a new environment coding project that calls on teen girls to code a statement about environmental issues they care about. By learning and using the Blockly coding language, these young coders can code personalized statements in support of the critical work of the World Wildlife Fund, The Ocean Agency and the Jane Goodall Institute.

Coded statements made on madewithcode.com in support of The Ocean Agency, NGO’s World Wildlife Fund and the Jane Goodall Institute

We’ve always supported advocates who are working to protect our environment, and we’re committed to do our part to run Google in a way that works for the planet. We recently shared that we’ll reach 100 percent renewable energy this year, and we continue to push ourselves to run the most energy efficient data centers in the world. You can learn more about these efforts in our Environmental Report.

In the words of Jane Goodall in the new Google Earth: "Only if we understand, will we care. Only if we care, will we help. Only if we help shall all be saved."

The High Five: this week in sweet and sparkly searches

6 days 20 hours ago

You made it through your week, but Earth has made it through billions of years. High five, Earth. Here’s a look at a rainbow of top trending Google searches from the week of April 17.

What a time to be aliveStarbucks has a new (temporary) spirit animal: the unicorn. Described as “sweet and fruity transforming to pleasantly sour,” the Unicorn Frappuccino has whipped up a mix of reactions from sweet tooths, neiiiggghhh (is that the sound a unicorn makes?)-sayers and even Starbucks employees. Coming in cold with 59g of sugar (the equivalent of three Twinkies), the Unicorn Frappucino also has people wondering “What flavor is the unicorn frappuccino?” and “Where can I get the unicorn frappuccino?” The drink caused so much buzz this week that search interest in “unicorn” spiked 3x over coffee searches. NBA Playoffs

The NBA Playoffs are here. Some teams might be Cavalier, others are Bulling over their opponents, while a couple teams seem to be Pacing themselves to bring the Thunder later. Who will get Bucked out of the playoffs and who will Rocket toward the finals? Basketball fans are watching the scores like a Hawk, Spurring them to search, “What are the NBA playoff scores?” and “What are the playoff games tonight?”

Earth to Google

This Saturday is Earth Day, and people are looking for ways to contribute and get outside. Search interest in “tree planting” spikes every April, and people also search for for National Parks, like Yellowstone and Yosemite. Others are curious about the history of Earth Day, with questions like “When did the first international earth day occur?” and “Who founded international earth day?”

Kids these days

As if high school wasn’t complicated/awkward/stressful enough, students are now expected to come up with a “promposal”—an elaborate gesture to ask someone to prom. High schoolers are looking for clever ideas with Google searches for “promposal puns” and “cute promposal ideas.” Some are even themed, like “Disney promposal” or “basketball promposal.” It’s a whole new world in high school these days—hope your prom is a slam dunk, kids.

Future tennis star

Serena Williams served some big news this week—she’s pregnant. The announcement, made on Snapchat, left fans wondering “Who is the father of Serena Williams’ baby?” and “How far along is Serena Williams?” The father is her fiancé Alexis Ohanian, and she is 20 weeks along, which means she won the Australian Open while she was pregnant … whoa, baby.

A market-related twist to the Dortmund bombing

6 days 22 hours ago
WHEN three explosive devices hit a bus carrying the Borussia Dortmund football team on April 11th, it was immediately assumed that it was another Islamist attack. Notes were found at the scene of the crime alleging that Islam was the motivation, with the author claiming a link to the terrorist group Islamic State.

U.S. WLI Slipped

6 days 23 hours ago
The U.S. Weekly Leading Index slipped to 144.1 from 145.0. The growth rate decreased to 6.5% from 7.0%.To put the economy in perspective please see links below: - read Lakshman Achuthan's presentation '"America First" in Perspective' at the Minsky Conference.- watch Lakshman Achuthan's interview on Reuters.For a closer look at recent moves in the U.S. Weekly Leading Index, see the chart below:
ECRI

Static Analysis for the Build Machine?

1 week ago

Editorial Note: I originally wrote this post for the NDepend blog.  You can check out the original here, at their site.  While you’re over there, download a trial of NDepend if you want to see some quantification of the tech debt in your codebase. I remember my earliest experiences with static analysis.  Probably a decade […]

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Erik Dietrich

Weekly roundup: 4 ways to protect your time and get more done

1 week ago
We’ve come to revere busyness, and to see it as being an indicator of high status. But busyness is harmful to our productivity and our health. It’s not something to aim for or be proud of. If you’re struggling with busyness and need to carve out more opportunities to do meaningful work, here are some […]
Belle B. Cooper

Brazilian Cyclical Growth Prospects

1 week 1 day ago
Three years ago Brazil was about to host the World Cup, with an opportunity to showcase just how far it had advanced. Instead, the commodity bust arrived and the economy imploded, with Brazil entering a severe business cycle downturn. In fact, Brazil remains mired in a deep recession – the worst on record. This is clearly evident from the sharp decline in the level of ECRI’s Brazilian Coinciden...
ECRI

"America First" in Perspective

1 week 1 day ago
ECRI's Lakshman Achuthan presented ""America First" in Perspective," at the Levy Economics Institute’s 26th Annual Hyman P. Minsky Conference. Please use this link to download a PDF of the presentation slides, including notes.• From a near-term, cyclical point of view, our analysis of the outlook is unambiguously positive.  • But when we expand our view to consider the next several years, becau...
ECRI